Rather than calling a convention for a particular amendment, Citizens for Self-Governance (CSG) has launched the Convention of the States Project to urge state legislatures to properly use Article V to call a convention for a particular subject—reducing the power of Washington, D.C. It is important to note that a convention for a particular amendment (e.g. a Balanced Budget Amendment) would be limited to that single idea. Requiring a balanced budget is a great idea that CSG fully supports. Congress, however, could comply with a Balanced Budget Amendment by simply raising taxes. We need spending restraints as well. We need restraints on taxation. We need prohibitions against improper federal regulation. We need to stop unfunded mandates.

While the national debt is a crisis of the first magnitude, in many ways it is the symptom rather than the disease. The disease is an improper allocation of power with Washington, D.C., believing its power has no limits. A Convention of the States needs to be called to ensure that we are able to debate and impose a complete package of restraints on the misuse of power by all branches of the federal government.

State applications for a Convention of the States establish a rule of germaneness that will govern the convention. If the applications designate “a balanced budget” as the subject matter, the convention would be limited to drafting that specific amendment. But if the applications call for a convention dedicated to the subject of reducing the jurisdiction and power of the federal government, then only amendments on that subject matter would be germane on the floor of the Convention.

The following are examples of amendment topics that would be germane at a Convention of the States:

  • A balanced budget amendment
  • A redefinition of the General Welfare Clause (the original view was that the federal government could not spend money on any topic within the jurisdiction of the states)
  • A redefinition of the Commerce Clause (the original view was that Congress was granted a narrow and exclusive power to regulate shipments across state lines—not all of the economic activity in the nation)
  • A prohibition of using international treaties and law to govern the domestic law of the United States
  • A limitation on using Executive Orders and federal regulations to enact laws (since the Congress is supposed to be the exclusive agency to enact laws)
  • Imposing term limits on Congress and the Supreme Court
  • Placing an upper limit on federal taxation
  • Requiring a sunset of all existing federal taxes and a super-majority vote to replace them with new, fairer taxes


It is important to emphasize that these are merely examples of what would be germane. It would be the Convention of the States itself that would determine which ideas deserve serious consideration, and it will take a majority of votes from the states to formally propose any amendments. All amendments to be discussed and ultimately proposed for ratification, however, will be limited to the subject matter of the applications—reducing the power and jurisdiction of Washington, D.C.

All existing Article V efforts to reduce the power of Washington, D.C., are aimed at particular amendments. Every one of these ideas would be germane at a Convention of the States under the application that CSG has prepared. Mark Levin, who is not only a well-known talk show host but a fine constitutional scholar as well, has recently begun to advocate the calling of a Convention of the States for a group of amendments that he calls the “Liberty Amendments.” Of his 11 proposed amendments, 10 would be germane at the Convention of the States using the CSG model application.

American citizens have become so frustrated with runaway federal power that they have begun discussing ideas like nullification and even secession. Such ideas are not only impractical; they could ultimately lead to a violent conflict. We need not turn to such dangerous alternatives. The Founders gave us a legitimate path to save our liberty by using our legitimate state governments to impose binding restraints on the federal government. We must use the power granted to the states in the Constitution.


Our Proposal Differs from Other Article V Plans